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Students should ask difficult questions and universities should protect their voices: Phil Baty at THE Forum

In an exclusive conversation with India TV News, Phil Baty talked about the students' protests against the amended citizenship law across the country at various universities

Sushmita Panda Sushmita Panda @SushmitaPanda
New Delhi Updated on: January 17, 2020 6:29 IST
Students should ask difficult questions and Universities should protect their voices: Phil Baty at T

Phil Baty during his address at THE Forum at Amity University on Thursday

The Times Higher Education (THE), in partnership with Amity University, is convening THE India Universities Forum at the Amity Campus in Noida. The two-day forum is hosting academicians, university leaders and education specialists from across the globe to discuss the challenges and issues faced by Indian higher education. 

Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at THE addressed a data masterclass in which he explained that THE University Impact Rankings are the world's first rankings' system to measure that universities' social and economic impact on the basis of United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

In an exclusive conversation with India TV News, Phil Baty talked about the students' protests against the amended citizenship law across the country at various universities. 

India Tv - Students should ask difficult questions and Universities should protect their voices: Phil Baty at T

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Phil Baty during his presentation

He said: "Universities should be places of free and open debate. I think that means universities should be a place where diversity of different opinions can be argued or discussed. I think its normally healthy and positive that young people feel that they have the right to protest. I think it's vital that protests are peaceful. It's vital that we facilitate as much as we can to facilitate dialogue, have constructive debate and argument and avoid violence. I think it's a sign of a healthy university that these diverse and passionate views of young people and have a sense of wanting their voices to be heard. I believe universities should be protected placed to open up on these diverse views, give place to protest but peacefully." 

While expressing pride, the Chief Knowledge Officer said that these protests can be seen as a sign that the students are actively engaged in political discussion, aware of the change and are concerned about political decisions.

"I think they are learning, listening and are conscious about wanting to contribute to society. This is genuinely healthy. Students are renowned across the globe for having strong views. Universities should be embracing this sort of healthy challenge to authorities. This shows that students are pushing boundaries and challenging orthodoxies. They want to hold the authorities to account, they should be asking questions and that's part of a healthy democracy. Students should ask difficult questions and seek answers and Universities should protect the student community," Baty said. 

Phil also raised his concern over climate change and emphasized the urgent need to address the grave issue. 

He said: "According to the data that we have from the Impact ranking and search database shows that India is a world leader in two areas. One is, of course, renewable energy and Sustainable development. India has a huge challenge on his hand with a massive youth population, massive democracy, and a growing economy, of course, it is fluctuating a little, but a country that has grown so quickly. Naturally, it is innovative in thinking about responsible consumption, renewable energy. So, I think India is a beacon to many possible words while excelling in these areas. Things like cheap accessible solar power are very strong in India. The universities have proven through impact ranking how constructive the outcomes of these ideas are. Second is health and well-being. A lot of Indian universities have focussed on the challenges and these efforts can be used as an example in other parts of the world." 

According to Baty, there is a need to try and support the students and teach them to push themselves to recognise competitions. 

"We need to show them that learning is an enlightening process. But of course, it should be fun and stimulating. There should be no pressure. If the pressure to perform well in the exams is too much then students should learn to manage and maintain a work-life balance. In Times Higher Ranking, we don't put students' exam results into the ranking. We are actually looking at the bigger picture. When we look at the teaching rankings, we tend to look at the things that favor the student like--Is the student-faculty ratio favorable?

If not, then we ensure it's done. We ensure that the students get all the necessary facilities. We also do a survey on current students asking them questions like-- would you recommend this curriculum to your friends and family members? We hope that we have the metrics that help the students to make an informed decision and actually recognise the mechanism to help and support students and not just focus entirely on grades and exams. In impact ranking we look at things that focus and promote equality," he added. 

THE India Universities forum 2020 is being held over January 16 and 17. The event boasts of having a number of delegates and speakers to discuss the Indian higher education system and the nature of global rankings in the country. 

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